ECM debut for Michael Formanek, whose formidable bass has propelled groups from the Mingus Big Band to Tim Berne’s Bloodcount and has backed artists as diverse as Chet Baker and Elvis Costello. A bandleader and composer in his own right, he is heard here with some highly-talented colleagues in an outgoing programme of his own pieces, whose unorthodox constructions set up strong solos and fiery group interaction.
PA-born pianist Degen has a hell of a resume: in the 60's, he lived in Germany, playing with expatriates Art Farmer & Leo Wright, returned to the USA where he had a trio with Paul Motian & Gary Peacock (unrecorded) and played in Buddy DeFranco's Glenn Miller Band, then returned to Germany & joined Albert Mangelsdorf's group. In '97, he braved Brooklyn to make this fine trio date. The easiest way to sum up Degen's style is a cross between early-to-mid-'70s Bill Evans with late 60's / early '70s McCoy Tyner: full-bodied, two-handed sound and consistently lyrical without ever being predictable. He's at his most Evans-esque on "Ode to Sammy Davis Jr." and recalls Herbie Nichols on "Round Trip". Formanek rules, playing Scott Lafaro to Degen's Evans (though neither are mere knock-offs).
The biggest pop star of the '80s, and one of the most popular artists of all time, with a brilliant, soulful voice and breathtaking dance moves. Dubbed the "King of Pop", he was one of the most popular entertainers in the world, and was the best-selling music artist at the time of his death. Jackson's contributions to music, dance, and fashion along with his publicized personal life made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades.
Three hyper-progressive improvisational jazz and cross-genre artists push the envelope again on their 2nd album for Cuneiform Records. The musicians' busy schedules via numerous and largely prolific solo and group-based projects have rocketed their respective artistries into the limelight, especially ECM recording artist Michael Formanek (bass) who for the past several decades has become a household name within these circles. Nonetheless, it's an adventurous exploration, led by guitarist Mary Halvorson's signature phraseology, comprised of extended lines that vaporize into the cosmos amid her diminutive note-bending jaunts and so on. Here, drummer Tomas Fujiwara generates a buoyant underpinning with colorful accents in parallel with Formanek's fluid and powerful support.